The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Part 8.

The second part of the second most beautiful prayer in the world, the Hail Mary, is now about to be written; the first part was spoken by an angel: "Hail (Mary) full of grace; the Lord is with Thee; blessed art thou amongst women." (Luke 1:28)

Now Elizabeth adds the second part in a "loud voice"; "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus)" Old age is here not jealous of youth or privilege, for Elizabeth makes the first public proclamation that Mary is the Mother of God: "How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord?" She learned it less from Mary's lips than from the Spirit of God nestling over her womb. Mary received the Spirit of God through an angel; Elizabeth was the first to receive it through Mary.

Cousin-nurse at birth, Mother-nurse at death. There is nothing Mary has that is for herself alone - not even her Son. Before He is born, her Son belongs to others. No sooner does she have the Divine Host within herself than she rises from the Communion rail of Nazareth to visit the aged and to make her young. Elizabeth would never live to see her son lose his head to the dancing stepdaughter of Herod, but Mary would live and die at once in seeing her Son taste death, that death might be no more.

Thomas Merton has compared John the Baptist in his mother's womb to the contemplative, such as the Trappist, for John the Baptist as the first "Anchorite" lives for God in secret.

Why do you fly from the drowned shores of Galilee, 
From the sands and the lavender water? 
Why do you leave the ordinary world, Virgin of Nazareth, 
The yellow fishing boats, the farms,

The wine smelling yards and low cellars
Or the oilpress, and the women by the well?
Why do you fly those markets,
Those suburban gardens,
The trumpets of the jealous lilies,
Leaving them all, lovely among the lemon trees ?

You have trusted no town
With the news behind your eyes.
You have drowned Gabriel's word in thoughts like seas
And turned toward the stone mountain
To the treeless places.
Virgin of God, why are your clothes like sails? 
The day Our Lady, full of Christ, 
Entered the dooryard of her relative
Did not her steps, light steps, lay on the paving leaves like gold?
Did not her eyes grey as doves
Alight like the peace of a new world upon that house,
upon miraculous Elizabeth?

Her salutation
Sings in the stone valley like a Charterhouse bell:
And the unborn saint John
Wakes in his mothers body,
Bounds with the echoes of discovery.
Sing in your cell, small anchorite!
How did you see her in the eyeless dark?

What secret syllable 
Woke your young faith to the mad truth 
That an unborn baby could be washed in the Spirit of God? 
Oh burning joy!
What seas of life were planted by that voice! 
With what new sense
Did your wise heart receive her Sacrament, 
And know her cloister Christ?

You need no eloquence, wild bairn, 
Exulting in your heritage, 
Jour ecstasy is your apostolate,

For whom to kick is contemplata tradere
Your joy is the vocation
Of Mother Church's hidden children
Those who by vow lie buried in the cloister or the hermitage
The speechless Trappist, or the grey, granite Carthusian,
The quiet Carmelite, the barefoot Clare
Planted in the night of contemplation,
Sealed in the dark and waiting to be born.

Night is our diocese and silence is our ministry 
Poverty our charity and helplessness our tongue-tied sermon. 
Beyond the scope of sight or sound we dwell upon the air
Seeking the world's gain in an unthinkable experience. 
Waiting upon the first far drums of Christ the Conqueror, 
Planted like sentinels upon the world's frontier.

(Thomas Merton, "The Quickening of St. John the Baptist," from The Tears of the Blind Lions)